Frequently Asked Questions

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What is THE ALTERNATIVE® device?

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The Alternative is a direct-fired blunt impact device for use in situations where less lethal force can be used to encourage a non-compliant, violent person to submit to officers for arrest. The device uses significant impact force to compel this change in behavior without resorting to deadly force. Without such less lethal tools, officers are generally left with lethal firearms as the only means to address these types of threats posed to officers and others.  

The device is compact, lightweight, and designed for immediate accessibility and deployment within seconds. It consists of an alloy projectile that is mounted onto the front of a bright orange docking unit, which is stored in an easily accessible pouch carried on an officer’s duty belt, exterior ballistic vest carrier, or thigh equipment panel. It attaches to an officer’s service weapon as pictured above, and if it fell into the hands of a suspect during a struggle, the device alone can’t be used against the officer. 

The goal of The Alternative is to save the life of the subject, while optimizing officer safety and allowing them to safely make an arrest. 

How does THE ALTERNATIVE® device work?

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When an officer decides to deploy The Alternative, they will attach it to their firearm’s slide. Once fired, the bullet and projectile instantly become one unit while separating from the dock, and kinetic energy is transferred to propel the projectile towards the target. As the projectile travels downrange and the dock ejects from the action of the slide, the firearm reverts to its normal function as it cycles in a new round.  

The Alternative serves to decrease the velocity of the bullet by approximately 80% allowing the projectile to impact the threat with less-lethal, non-penetrating energy. The result is pain and psychological shock to the targeted individual with little risk of critical injury or death. 

In which situations is the use of THE ALTERNATIVE® device recommended?

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If an officer responds to a situation that warrants their weapon to be drawn, The Alternative could be considered as a less lethal option to neutralize the threat after establishing the following: 

  • The suspect is not complying with the officer’s commands
  • The suspect is armed or unarmed and poses a threat of injury or death to officers, others, or themselves, in some circumstances
  • The officer’s or another person’s life is not in immediate danger
  • The officer has time to attach the unit to their service weapon
  • The officer can attempt to mitigate the threat through the application of less-lethal force
  • The suspect is at an appropriate distance per department policy and procedure (ABC’s recommended deployment distance is 15 to 30 feet or roughly 5 to 9 meters) 

If an officer does not feel that they have appropriate time to safely attach and deploy, or if they do not have appropriate back-up (per department policy), then they should not attempt to use The Alternative.

What type of weapon does THE ALTERNATIVE® device work with?

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The docking unit is designed in various versions to fit most pistols carried by law enforcement and military officers. It is currently available for the following firearms: 

  • Glock (17 / 19 / 45) in 9mm
  • Glock (22 / 23) in .40 caliber
  • Smith & Wesson (M&P-9, M&P-40)
  • CZ P10 (9mm & .40 caliber) 

What is THE ALTERNATIVE® projectile made of and what type of ammunition does it work with?

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The Alternative projectile is made of a specialized alloy that captures the bullet through friction, heat, and immense pressure when fired. It is an inert component that gets its kinetic energy from the live bullet fired into it. It has no moving parts or hazardous materials built into the design; however, proper handling procedures are imperative for safe operation, and the following Guidelines and Restrictions must be followed when using The Alternative. 

The projectile is compatible with 9mm and .40 caliber ammunition. All ballistics testing on The Alternative was performed with the following types of ammunition:

  • 9mm: SPEER Gold Dot 9mm Luger +P 124gr GDHP
  • .40cal: SPEER Gold Dot .40 S&W 180gr GDHP

Recommended Guidelines and Restrictions when using THE ALTERNATIVE®

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  • Each unit is designed for one-time use
  • Do not re-use already-fired unit components under any circumstances
  • Before using, inspect equipment to ensure there is no damage or anomalies to the device
  • Do not use with modified slides, e.g., ported slides, slide cut-outs
  • Do not use with threaded or extended barrels
  • When using with raised sights make sure that the base of the sight does not interfere with a proper fit of the dock on the weapon
  • Use ammunition that is similar to the types used in testing, as stated above 
  • Do not use reload ammunition
  • Do not use metal penetrating rounds
  • Do not use less than 180 grain with .40 caliber ammunition

Note: When using polymer or elastomer tipped ammunition, there is a higher potential for an officer to feel some type of blowback, such as gaseous pressure or micro shards on the hand or face. This occurs due to the bullet’s design, which collapses and flowers upon impact. The current Projectile is more compatible with polymer / elastomer ammunition in .40 caliber rounds, but it is not advisable to use 9mm polymer / elastomer rounds with the current Projectile model. Based on additional testing, the Company is producing a new Projectile with a shallower cavity that should mitigate this blowback, making it more compatible with 9mm polymer / elastomer ammunition. 

What is the safe distance to use THE ALTERNATIVE® device?

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The Alternative is extremely accurate at distances up to 30 feet (or 9 meters). For officer safety, we recommend a distance between 20 to 30 feet (roughly 5 to 9 meters), however The Alternative can be deployed at closer ranges, but the risk of injury may increase marginally with shorter distances.  

Will THE ALTERNATIVE® device penetrate the target like a lethal projectile?

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Extensive penetration assessments were performed on The Alternative with independent laboratories, accredited by the National Institute of Justice (“NIJ”), using a standard test method known as the Penetration Assessment of Less Lethal Munitions (“PALLM”), and the device successfully passed each assessment, which determined that there is little to no risk of penetration upon impact when using The Alternative.

Once fired, can THE ALTERNATIVE® device be re-used?

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The Alternative is a one-shot device, and its components should not be re-used under any circumstances after being fired. For live-fire qualifications, officers must use a new, non-fired unit. For ongoing training purposes, the company provides a training unit with a projectile ‘pass-through’ that can be re-used in Virtual Reality Training (VRT) or Reality Based Training (RBT), where either a laser or simulated ammunition can be shot through the projectile. 

Can THE ALTERNATIVE® device be used if it has been mounted on the weapon and not fired?

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Yes, the officer can safely remove The Alternative and return it to the holder or pouch for later use. 

Why is THE ALTERNATIVE® device docking unit orange?

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The bright orange color of the docking unit is to let other officers or bystanders know the officer’s intent to use a less-lethal device. Officers are also trained to verbally announce “Less Lethal!” which provides further clarification to the subject, bystanders, and cover officers that a less-lethal option is being deployed and most importantly, so that the cover officers do not follow with sympathetic fire. 

Is there any identification of the impact unit of THE ALTERNATIVE® device?

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Yes, each projectile has its own serial number and caliber identification. When given to an officer, the department should record the serial number assigned to that officer.

Does THE ALTERNATIVE® device have an expiration date?

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There is no set expiration date for the device. If stored away from severe temperature changes and direct sunlight when it is not being used, and not subjected to abuse, its components should not degrade for many years. Consistent equipment checks should be conducted to ensure the docking unit and retaining pins have not degraded or been damaged and that the projectile has not become loose or separated from the dock.

Does THE ALTERNATIVE® device interfere with the sight or function of the weapon?

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The groove on top of the projectile allows the firearm’s sight to be clear from obstruction. The way the dock attaches to the top of the firearm’s slide also does not interfere with the function of the weapon, and it still allows an officer to add lights, optics, or raised sights to the weapon without any modifications. 

A critical step in deploying The Alternative is for officers to make sure before firing that the unit is correctly seated and snapped into place so that the firearm’s sights are clear from any obstruction. If the sight is obstructed, this indicates that the device is not seated correctly. 

Does THE ALTERNATIVE® device require any special training?

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Yes, our ‘Train the Trainer’ program is conducted by our training staff, who are retired law enforcement officers. Our trainers will teach the one-day course to a department’s trainers so that they will then be certified to train and qualify their own officers. The training program focuses on safe handling procedures and proper attachment, developing muscle memory for efficient deployment, and procedures to mitigate the risk of unnecessary cover fire and multiple shots from the officer deploying The Alternative. 

For each officer’s initial qualification and annual requalification, the company recommends a minimum of two live-fire shots per year, and officers will also have access to re-usable ‘training’ units for ongoing virtual and/or reality-based training to practice deployment in various scenarios. 

How to deal with the fact that many departments adopt double-shot training in their doctrines? Does this not jeopardize the use of THE ALTERNATIVE® device?

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This is an important question that we are asked all the time. The answer lies in an understanding of range training versus the realities of threat-based, real-world officer involved shootings. The notion that officers are trained to “double-tap” is based on a simplified understanding of range training. 

Yes, there are double-tap drills called for in range training, but typically as the distance to the target is increased the drills call for controlled series of one, two, or three shots to various target areas: center mass, pelvis, head, etc. If the range drills are timed, the time allowed to complete the series increases as the shooter moves further from the target. The time between shots becomes longer as officers reacquire a sight picture between each shot to ensure accuracy. As the distance increases to the distance recommended for deploying The Alternative, officers have slowed their rate of fire to make precision shots. 

In contrast, when officers are engaged in reality-based training or when they are confronted by an immediate life-endangering threat in the real world, they rapidly (and often inaccurately), fire as many shots as they perceive necessary to stop the threat. They do not always respond by shooting one, two, or three times as they do when training or qualifying on the range.

The Alternative is not recommended for use in high stress, extremely chaotic and rapidly evolving situations where the need to use deadly force is apparent and imminent. We recommend its use when a situation is stable enough to allow an officer to give commands for compliance, where there is sufficient time to attach it to the firearm, and where there is sufficient distance to 

allow officers a reactionary gap to respond with another tactic if the device does not achieve the desired effect and the subject attacks. 

One of the key features of The Alternative is that the officer’s service weapon reverts to its previous lethal function after the device is fired. 

Unlike other less lethal options, an officer does not need to transition back to their primary firearm to use lethal force after deploying The Alternative, because it is already in their hands. Many officers have been hurt or killed because they were left holding an ineffective less lethal device when it failed to compel compliance and the person attacked. 

When a police officer chooses to pull out The Alternative device and mount it to their weapon, they are making a conscious decision to use a less lethal option to avoid using deadly force. All training for less lethal weapons instills in officers the necessity to fire once and assess, and the training for The Alternative is no different. We believe that the officer’s conscious decision to 

deploy a less lethal option, and the training to assess after firing, should suffice in overriding the action of needing multiple shots in a real-world encounter. 

Instead of using THE ALTERNATIVE® device, why not just use a neuro-muscular incapacitation device, a stun gun, a 12-gauge bean bag, or 40mm foam-tipped baton round that are already on the market?

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We believe that less-lethal options are important tools for officers to reduce the necessity and incidences of using lethal force, and officers should consider using a dedicated less lethal platform if one is available and appropriate for the situation at hand.  

Dedicated less-lethal launchers, such as a 40mm or beanbag shotgun can be effective, however, they are normally not carried into the crisis scene when officers arrive. When these devices are needed, an officer may have to return to the patrol car to retrieve it, or they may need to wait for another officer to bring one to the scene. These options are often minutes away when seconds count. 

The Alternative bridges this critical gap by providing an immediately available less-lethal option to address the dangerous situation, instead of relying on the deadly force of their firearm while waiting for a less-lethal solution.   

What happens to a person when they are shot with THE ALTERNATIVE® device?

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The Alternative has been assessed using industry recognized standard test methods conducted by NIJ accredited ballistics labs in the U.S. The objective of these tests was to understand the probability and type of injury created by an impact and to approve The Alternative for safe and effective use when targeting the major muscle groups and torsos of non-compliant, violent individuals wearing light clothing (T-shirt) or medium clothing (medium jacket with T-shirt layer).  These series of tests revealed that The Alternative’s impact would have a 25% to 85% probability of generating mostly moderate injuries, such as a cracked rib or sternum, while producing a very low probability of critical injury or death (1% to 2% probability of a severe lung injury; less than 0.01% to 3% probability of commotio cordis / cardiac arrest). Essentially, The Alternative has been found to be a safe and effective tool for use in the field at distances between the muzzle and 30 feet (0 to 9 meters), with recommended deployment distances between 20 to 30 feet (5 to 9 meters) for officer safety and the safety of the targeted individual, as the risk of injury may marginally increase with shorter distances.